Giant Pandas: Edinburgh Gets Tourism Boost

First pandas in the UK for 20 years

First pandas in the UK for 20 years

A pair of eight-year old giant pandas called ‘Sweetie’ and ‘Sunshine’ have arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, from China after taking a five-thousand mile journey to their new home. The pandas are expected to attract many thousands of tourists to the Scottish city, they were sent on a specially chartered non-stop flight over the weekend arriving in Edinburgh at 1pm.

Breeding pair

The pandas which are also known in Chinese as Tian Tian and Yang Guang are a breeding pair and the first to live in the United Kingdom for almost 20 years, it is planned that they will stay at Edinburgh Zoo for the next 10 years.

Tian Tian, means ‘Sweetie’, and Yang Guang, means ‘Sunlight’, have come to this side of the world on board a Boeing 777F flight which was called the FedEx ‘Panda Express’. They did not come alone, there was a vet and two animal handlers accompanying them on the long journey.

Moreover, to make sure the valuable and very important animals were delivered safely four pilots with extensive experience in transporting some of the world’s most precious cargo were also on the flight.

Pandas are struggling in the wild, with their habitat becoming smaller and because their food which is bamboo takes a long-time to grow and is not being given the chance. When they were able to move through the south-east of Asia the bamboo trees had time to grow back, but with the forests being cut down the Pandas are finding it increasingly harder to find food and this is the reason their numbers are dwindling.

When the two were on the flight they were given a special in-flight meal of bamboo, apples, carrots and a ‘panda cake’. On arrival they were met by a large media presence, including foreign journalists.

Cheers and bagpipes

The FedEx plane landed to cheers and bagpipes, and the female panda Sweetie was brought out first. The arrival of the pandas marks a five-year effort to bring them over to Scotland, it is hoped that they will be part of a wider plan to increase numbers and get the panda thriving in the wild again.

But this all depends on the habitat and the effort that will need to go into conservation and allocating a large enough place where they can thrive without human intervention.

A spokesman for the zoo revealed that after their flight the two pandas had spent their first night sleeping of the jet lag.

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